* Drugmaker says Murdoch has made strong contribution
* Investigations need to run their course
* News Corp executive also sits on Sotheby’s board
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline , Britain’s biggest drugmaker, said James Murdoch continued to serve as a non-executive director, and it would watch investigations into the phone-hacking scandal engulfing his family’s newspaper business.
The 38-year-old heir apparent to his father Rupert Mordoch’s News Corp joined GSK’s board in 2009, since when he has made “a strong contribution”, a GSK spokesman said on Friday.
In recent days, James Murdoch’s reputation has taken a pummelling, with critics saying he was too slow to realise the enormity of the scandal at News International, the British newspaper unit he chairs.
GSK — a group with plenty of experience of corporate controversy, ranging from rows over executive pay to safety alarms about some of its medicines — will watch developments closely and is not rushing to any judgments.
“With regard to the activities that are alleged to have taken place at News International, we believe that the full facts must be established and the ongoing investigations be allowed to take place and come to a considered conclusion,” the spokesman said.
James Murdoch was paid 98,000 pounds ($158,000) in shares for serving on GSK’s board in 2010. He is member of both the drugmaker’s corporate responsibility and remuneration committees.
He is also a non-executive director of U.S.-listed auction house Sotheby’s .
The News International chairman said on Friday his company would take out adverts in rival British newspapers this weekend to apologise to the nation for wrongdoing at the News of the World, the Sunday paper at the centre of the scandal. ($1 = 0.620 pound) (Editing by Dan Lalor)